Scotland: Extra 100 armed forces personnel to support vaccine rollout to combat Omicron variant

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Gareth Milner

By Gareth Milner

Published: 14/12/2021

- 18:55

The support has been called in amid a wave of Omicron infections across the UK.

An additional 100 armed forces personnel have been rallied to accelerate the vaccine rollout in Scotland.

The support has been called in amid a wave of Omicron infections across the UK.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said bringing in a further 100 personnel to help with the vaccination effort will make a “significant” impact on the number of people jabbed in Scotland.

The total number of personnel helping with the vaccine programme across the country stands at 221 as of Tuesday.

Those from the military who have been drafted in are involved in supporting health care professionals, NHS Scotland staff and volunteers and administering vaccines.

Since early October, 121 members of the armed forces have been supporting the vaccine programme across Scotland.

The new, boosted cohort of personnel are expected to be helping until the end of February next year, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

In addition to supporting the vaccine programme, 114 members of the military are driving ambulances to help the Scottish Ambulance Service.

The MoD confirmed this support will be extended until the end of March.

Mr Jack said: “The deployment of a further 100 personnel will make a significant contribution to getting people vaccinated in Scotland.

“As the festive season approaches, when we want to spend time with loved ones, it’s more important than ever to be protected.

“I urge everyone to book their jabs as soon as they are eligible.

“The military has been front and centre in communities here from the very start of the pandemic – and will continue to be so amid a surge in Omicron infections.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Our Armed Forces continue to tirelessly support the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Scotland to give people and communities vital protection against this virus.

“This uplift in support will help to get more vaccines into arms faster, working shoulder to shoulder with the dedicated health services.”

The personnel brought in to assist with the programme have been called from units across the three services – Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force.

Some of those deploying have been active on other tasks in Scotland since the pandemic began including community testing.

Earlier on Tuesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Omicron cases are “increasing exponentially – faster than any variant that has gone before it”.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament about Covid-19, Ms Sturgeon said two people who are known to be infected with the variant have now been admitted to hospital.

She told MSPs: “We expect it to become the dominant strain within days.

“This matters because Omicron is significantly more transmissible than Delta; the R number associated with Delta is around 1 but the R number for Omicron appears to be well over 2 and possibly above 4.

“Cases in Scotland in total have increased by a quarter in the last week, they have risen in all age groups, except the over 85s. Omicron is already contributing to that increase.

“But as it becomes the dominant strain, its much higher R number will also dominate, and that will drive a much steeper increase in cases.”

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